When I was a kid I can remember each night on TV a short public service announcement would come on the screen late at night asking the question… “It’s 10 PM- Do You Know Where Your Children Are?” Does anyone remember that? Well, recent studies have shown that our teenagers spend an average of 6.5 hours a day engaged in screen time NOT INCLUDING school assignments and work. Some studies I read say the number is much higher. So the question once again remains, “Parents, Do You Know Where Your Children Are?”
The truth is that they are spending on average 45.5 hours a week on their phones and on social media. What has their attention? What are they feeding into their minds? What are they watching? Who are they talking to? What are the long term effects of this? Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
I think it’s time for an honest discussion about setting (and enforcing) some healthy boundaries. BUT to do that, we have to consider OUR OWN habits and how technology has shaped us…yes, US! You see it’s not just the kids who are spending staggering amounts of time on their mobile devices, it is us! Sadly, some of the studies that are coming out suggest that we are far more addicted to our devices as adults than originally thought. The question that we have to honestly answer for ourselves is this: “Do we control technology or does it control and shape us?”
A recent article in USA TODAY shared the story of second graders at a Louisiana school who shared with their teacher during a writing assignment their wish to see their parents get off their phones. One student wrote, “I don’t like the phone because my parents are on their phone every day…I hate my mom’s phone and I wish she never had one!” Again, do we control technology or does it control us?
As we start this new year what are some of the rules and boundaries that you have in your home OR need to establish in your home regarding cell phones and social media? 45 hours a week…there is too much at stake for our families to ignore this and fall asleep at the wheel!
I recently read that there are 4 things that we can’t ever get back…the stone after it’s thrown, the word after it’s said, the occasion after it’s missed and time after it’s gone! That’s why the Scripture admonishes us to…Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16
I know that this can all feel overwhelming. My advice: take time to PRAY, PROCESS and GET ON THE SAME PAGE WITH YOUR SPOUSE regarding the appropriate boundaries to put into place for your family. Remember that while it’s important for you to engage your kids in meaningful discussions and consider their input, it’s your job as a parent to lead them, teach them by example, and put boundaries in place for them, following through regardless of the pushback you will get. Let’s love them enough to outlast them. It’s what’s best for them.
Below I have included some resources that I think will prove helpful to you as you look to put healthy screen time boundaries in place for your family. Please know that I am rooting and praying for you!
Pastor Seth Kirschner
AXIS Ministries: Reclaiming The Smart Phone- 4 Important Discussions- https://axis.org/smartphones
CPYU: Center for Parent-Youth Understanding. This is a ‘go-to’ resource for me- https://cpyu.org
Tech Talk Tuesdays: blog/newsletter- https://www.screenagersmovie.com/tech-talk-tuesdays
Screenagers: Screen time management apps- https://www.screenagersmovie.com/parenting-apps
Common Sense Media: a great tool that helps families make smart media choices https://www.commonsensemedia.org
Bark: https://www.bark.us – A company that offers internet accountability and software for mobile devices and computers. I definitely recommend checking this out!